Research from CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, has revealed that it is not just financial losses that affects victims of fraud – but that it is actually the time taken to sort out the mess that can have the most devastating impact on victims.
When asked the question ‘What is the worst side effect for victims of fraud?’, respondents were given a choice of three responses, based upon the three most common themes raised by victims of fraud who answered a previous CIFAS online survey.
Over 41% of respondents said ‘Time lost trying to clear up the mess’, with almost 31% answering ‘Trust in people/institutions damaged’ and a further 27% citing ‘Financial impact and loss’.
CIFAS Communications Manager, Richard Hurley, said: “For victims of fraud, the financial loss is obviously a very real one. Lenders and suppliers, however, are in most cases under an obligation to refund any losses or debts taken out in an innocent party’s name. This means that such losses are actually temporary.
“What is interesting is that respondents to this poll have overwhelmingly emphasised this by confirming that the real trauma is the impact upon the fraud victims’ time, as they try to untangle themselves from the mess caused by a fraudster.”
Untangling the mess left by ID theft is one thing – losing trust is another. For most victims, the methods fraudsters used to get the details they needed in order to impersonate them or to hijack an existing account remains unknown. With over 121,500 individual cases of impersonation or account takeover recorded in 2011, the scale of the problem cannot be over-estimated.
You can take some precautions against ID Fraud and the time it takes to clear it up:
- Never give your identity details or financial information over the phone to someone calling unexpectedly even if it is the bank/company you use: especially if it is one you have never used.
- Destroy or shred any documentation you no longer need that an ID fraudster could use, including bank or credit card statements, cheque book stubs and so on.
- By monitoring your credit report you can give yourself an extra form of protection against the risk of ID fraud, by getting alerts of any changes to your credit report.
Remember that with ProtectMyID membership you will be alerted to any sign of identity fraud and your credit report will be monitored for changes. If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud, then ProtectMyID’s Fraud resolution assistance will ensure a dedicated caseworker will work with you to help you sort everything out from start to finish.
 CIFAS figures, March 2012